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A msterdam is a top- five European destination. It's reputation is built on culture, entertainment and a variety of venues led by the huge Amsterdam RAI complex. The Dutch capital this year celebrates its nautical and water- based heritage under the banner of the Water Sensations 2010 campaign. Amsterdam waters run deep for exhibitions too, being a city that can handle 270 flights a day at Schiphol airport and boasts 350 hotels. This year, RAI, alone has four events connected to water, including the largest boat show in the Benelux, HISWA and international water fairs Aquaterra and Aquatech. The eighth edition of SAIL takes place in August, the largest public event in the Netherlands. For five days the city harbour will be the setting for a programme of music, culture and 600 ships, including Tall Ships. The RAI delivered its ? 50m venue baby extension at the end of last year. The Elicium, has 20 meeting rooms and potentially 30 more, if four floors of offices are converted. RAI, which started out as an organiser of car and bicycle shows in 1893, is averaging 50 international congresses, 70 trade fairs and a thousand other events annually. There are plans for an 800- room hotel to be added to the site within three years. After difficult 2009, commercial director at RAI, Maurits van der Sluis, tells EWthe events calendar for 2010 " looks surprisingly good". Van der Sluis salvaged the RAI's blue- ribboned auto event from the wreckage of Europe's motor show crashes last year. " Our cut down motor show last April was 80,000sqm gross, not bad in time of crisis. We had to invest a lot and revenue was lower than usual. But we succeeded in keeping the show alive despite car producers and dealers going bankrupt." " We anticipated well last year," says Van der Sluis, " by booking in some big international conferences and exhibitions for 2010- 2013." The 2010 events menu includes the Power- Gen Europe 2010 ( June) and Sibos 2010 ( October) for the finance industry, as well as the World Congress on Information Technology ( May). Motoring show Top Gear Live, in January, was fully booked. A new RAI Leads programme is aiming to deliver the right visitors for organisers, via hosted buyer programmes and lead generation systems. " Organisers are demanding more value," Van der Sluis adds. " We understand that. We have grown with them, so when they suffered, we suffered with them. RAI doesn't just say, ' Pay and Goodbye'. We're in it together." Here are some other venues for organisers considering bringing their business to Amsterdam to watch in 2010. The Novotel AmsterdamCitynext to the RAI has renovated all 610 rooms and has a new congress centre able to host 1,000 delegates. With halls covering an area of 4,000sqm and 21 rooms, the Beurs van Berlage- the former Stock Exchange - offers exhibition facilities in the historic heart of Amsterdam. This summer, the Yakult Hallwill be converted into a flexible event space, able to cater for functions of up to 600 and simultaneous smaller events. The Hotel Okura Amsterdam has four restaurants and recently opened a Taste of Okuraculinary centre where groups can learn to prepare the chefs' dishes themselves. The five- starSofitel Amsterdam Grand Hotelwill complete a major conversion this spring, and will boast 17 event rooms with a total space of 1,400 sqm. The NEMOscience and technology centre offers the option of hosting after- hours events among the exhibits. The Dutch capital is looking to a year of ' Water Sensations 2010' to add a splash of colour to the exhibition canvas. Dam sensational City Focus| Exhibition World 28| April 2010| THE MAGAZINE FOR THE GLOBAL EXHIBITION COMMUNITY WWW. EXHIBITION- WORLD. NET Above: Beurs van Berlage Left: Mauritus Van der Sluis